Harvard and Prospect collide to talk religious literacy


Harvard University

HarvardX for Allston – Faculty Speaker Series: Professor Diane Moore spoke on: Understanding Religions Through Their Scriptures at the Harvard Education Portal. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer

By Shannon McGovern, Staff Writer
Ignorance due to religious illiteracy is a major concern with today’s society. Diane Moore, director of the Religious Literacy Project at Harvard Divinity School, recognizes this issue and intends to fix it, with the help of the staff and students at Prospect High School. She works side-by-side with John Camardella, educator of the World Religions course at Prospect, to show young adults why this topic is so important and how religious literacy applies to everyone worldwide.
With developing a new course to teach students religious literacy comes uncertainty and struggle, as educators search to find an answer to teaching this complex curriculum without overstepping their boundaries.
in order to create ways to formulate the curriculum Moore uses her knowledge from working at Harvard University and her own personal interest to bring awareness to the community.
She will be coming to Prospect to speak to those interested in world religions on Thursday, October 25, at 6 p.m. Various topics and concerns will be discussed, as well as live streamed across the country by Prospect students to address how this curriculum can be taught effectively, so that it can impact each and every one of its students in a positive manner.
Each year, it sparks more and more interest from the students at Prospect High School. It has become so popular on the list of available electives that there are not enough spaces in Camardella’s packed schedule of five classes a day.
While students are learning more about this developing curriculum, teachers are also figuring out ways that a course so culturally and religiously involved can be taught without going against constitutional law. Camardella understands first-hand what it is like having to develop new teaching methods that can find that happy medium between religious education and overstepping devotional expression.
“My old line is that ‘Other people are not failed attempts at being you,’” Camardella said. “It’s working within that paradox that I feel like studying about religion, studying about culture, gives people windows into the lives of others.”
Although her time here at Prospect is limited to a few hours, Moore hopes her interest in finding that happy medium that Camardella is always talking about is finally solved, and can be brought to educators at other schools nearby. While she is at Prospect, she will be able to answer questions from the audience live as well as questions from viewers watching her talk from the broadcast.
The seniors in Camardella’s world religions classes are eagerly awaiting the arrival of Dr. Moore.  They are interested in sharing and solving some of complexities that will go into developing this new pilot program. Camardella and many of his students anticipate that the attendance Thursday evening will most likely be high.
In the middle of this educational journey are the students: young adults who are putting their time and effort into something they believe will become globally important, and necessary for this world of diversity they see all around them.
“I love how it’s a way of seeing cultures that I’ve never seen before and it’s a very insightful look into how people think and see the world they live in,” senior Annie Cimack said. “I feel like this class really prepares you to be a citizen of the world. You’re learning skills not about just booksmarts, but about how to be a better person.”